A/N: I'm going to try and break the record for Longest Author's Note. Please read all of it.

Okay. I can't remember the last time I updated anything, I'm losing plot-bunnies left and right, and I'm falling out of the habit of checking the Wicked section. I haven't PMed anyone in ages, I barely review, and I just have to face it; I'm falling out of fanfiction. It's hard to admit it, really, and I still love Wicked, and all who love it, so much, but I realize that my profile is gathering dust and I'm starting to fade from memory. So why am I posting a story?

This is a story I've had for a long time, and it's part of my secret to writing great humor. When you're not feeling funny, write heart-wrenching angst (polar opposite of humor) and hide it away in a closet and then write something funny when you're over-angst'd. I can't remember how long I've had this for, but I've got sixteen solid, beta'd chapters. I'm going to do one last story, one that I can truly call my best work, with regular weekly updates and a coherent plot. Please don't be put off by the M-rating. I feel that I've matured as a writer, and it's not rated M for smut-sex. There are extreme sexual overtones, but there's also references to drugs, some violence, and a lot of character angst. I just can't pass it as a T. Also, most of the people who find this story will be my alert-ers, whom I love with all my heart and feel the need to properly say goodbye to.

The basic premise of the fic is, 'what would happen if the Canon was born somewhere else?' What if their parents had lived somewhere else and their lives had been different, with different opportunities available to them, and some opportunities don't exist at all? Would things still turn out the same if the characters came from different backgrounds?

This fic is intended to be alternate universe musicalverse, based on a quote from a play called 'Ascension Day' that will you will read below. I'm more comfortable with musicalverse characters and their personalities, but because of the number of characters I need and the general theme of the story, I will be borrowing excessively from bookverse. You may recognize characters, but because of the limited point of view I'm using, several characters will have pseudonyms or nicknames. I'm going to try to clear up who is who by the end, but if you ever have a question as to who someone is, or if someone is a canon character, feel free to ask me.

Wicked is not mine. You'll all be with me, like a handprint on my heart. -LostOzian

"Did you ever wonder… if we didn't happen to be born here, if we were born somewhere else, that everything would have turned out… different?"

"…What do you mean?"

"…I don't know."

Fiyero glanced up and down the street, looking for an unsuspecting someone whose pockets might be a bit too heavy. Well, there were many pockets that were too heavy in the Wizard's glorious Emerald City, but most of those people stayed in areas where Fiyero would have been avoided like a disease. He glanced down at his pants, by now far too tight and starting to get a few holes. These are going to be the first to be replaced, he promised himself. Then after that, the shirt, and after that, the shoes, and by the time he got to shoes, he'd need new pants again… He sighed, trying to rub some warmth into his arms. A month ago, being in the City had been a kind of dream to a boy living in a remote Vinkan village. He had it planned out in his mind; come to the City, get enough money for a hotel room, then use the next day to work up enough to pay for about a month in a room, then go from there. The thing Fiyero hadn't accounted for was his own limitations: hunger, for one. Poor planning and selfishness on the caravan leader's part had led to the last three days being spent battling starvation. The plan looked good on paper until that stumbling block had literally 'eaten' his reserve cash.

He finally spotted someone who at least looked like an easy mark. A skinny young woman with her head down, staring at the cobblestones as she sped along the street, though there was no telling how much money she had on her. Just right here, fake a collision…

Fiyero ran right into the woman, both of them falling to the ground. Since he had been expecting it, Fiyero was up first, but had to play that he was "so sorry, here, let me help you up…" It was only after he had secured her coin-purse and he had finished going through the innocent brush-off routine that he got a good look at her face.

He had to admit, she was beautiful, though he wasn't sure what to make of the green skin. He stared at her for a moment, hands awkwardly hovering above her shoulders, as he tried to make sense of it all. She was staring back at him calmly, knowingly.

A clock-tick later and he was up against the wall with a knife at his throat. How had she moved so fast? It was just a swirling of black cloak and boom, the tables were turned.

"Give it back," she threatened, twisting her knife a hair so the blade pressed sharper into Fiyero's throat. He wasn't exactly sure how beautiful she was now, with her face contorted in rage and veil-less threats.

"Give what back?" he faked innocence.

"My purse, you picked my purse," she said shortly. "Give it back, then tell me who put you on this block or you'll never work again."

The gig over, Fiyero handed back the coin purse, which the green woman took without ever lifting the knife from his throat.

"Now who do you report to?" she asked him. "Who put you on this block?"

"What are you talking about?" Fiyero said in confusion. "Nobody gave me anything, I'm trying to find some change for food and a room, alright?"

"Who let you work this block without bringing you to Court?" she demanded.

"I don't know anything about a court," Fiyero insisted. "But rest assured, I'm not likely to forget you soon…" The knife pressed further into his throat.

"Think you're clever, don't you?" she said. "Mark my words, you won't be able to get your sticky fingers on a single copper until you're accepted."

"Accepted?" Fiyero repeated. "What do you mean?"

"Find the person who generally works this block," she said. "Have him let you in."

"Would it kill you to speak straight?" Fiyero said, getting fed up. To his surprise, the woman's undoubtedly green knee found the space between his legs, and he fell. The next moment she was gone.

Shit… Fiyero thought, lying there in the street for a moment. That hurt! On the sunny side, he wasn't dead… She had a knife; he might as well be lying here with his blood forcing itself out of a gash in his neck.

That thought didn't the pain in his legs hurt any less. Groaning, he grabbed onto the wall and used it to drag himself up. Well, this just bites. Honestly, he hadn't expected it to be so hard in the City. He had thought there would be plenty of work for a person with his 'skills', but apparently he had to be… accepted. Just great. There was probably an acceptance fee, too. And the green girl told him to find the person who 'worked the block'. Probably another pickpocket. 

Why did everything have to be so organized in the City?! The cruel precision of the city blocks, no haggling in markets, and the cold, distant expression the Gale Force officers at the palace had watched him with. Sighing again, he leaned up against the wall and waited to find the man the green woman had talked about.

The wait was long and tedious. He just looked up and down the street, trying to see if anyone was making a lift from someone else. An hour passed. Two. Fiyero was starting to feel the air get colder as sundown approached, accompanied by the hunger of having not procured money to procure a scrap of food with.

Not what I expected from the City, he thought again for the umpteenth time. His first day here and apparently there was no way for him to work until he was 'accepted'. Huh. A thieves' union. He laughed at the thought.

There, right there! That man made a lift off of a middle-aged man as they passed. It was a casual brush, ending up with the gentleman's watch in the other man's pocket, but Fiyero couldn't help but admire the technique. He usually favored full-on collision; it allowed you to reach into every pocket rather than just the one you happened to be closest to. As the man passed by, Fiyero joined him in stride, speaking before the other could say anything.

"I need to be accepted," Fiyero said. "Are you the man who works this street?" The man glanced at him, then nodded.

"Tell me a name," he said. "Not your real name, but the name you want others like you to call you." Fiyero nodded, thinking back to his childhood in a remote village in the Vinkus.

"Diamond," he said, remembering the symbol of royalty. "I'm Diamond."

"Nice. I'm Avatar," the man said, stopping at the street corner and extending his hand for Fiyero to shake. "Court begins in a few minutes. Always make sure you're available at sundown."

"What's this Court I keep hearing about?" Avatar smirked at him.

"You'll find out. Come with me."